Times-Picayune reporter: I can’t keep my mouth shut and pretend everything is okay

New Orleans Times-Picayune weekend reporter Kari Dequine Harden has had it.

“Sometimes I just want to scream about what is happening around me” at the newspaper, she writes.

“Those of us laid off still have jobs to do until the 30th of Sept, but it’s going from bad to worse,” she tells Romenesko readers. “This newsroom is unhealthy, to say the least. I desperately want my job until October because I love it. But I also can’t just keep my mouth shut and pretend everything is okay, or that it doesn’t matter. So I sent this to editors/publishers/nola.com top brass this morning. Because I’m pissed.”

Here’s the reporter’s email to editor Jim Amoss, NOLA.com director of content James O’Byrne, NOLA.com managing producer Keith Marszalek, new publisher Ricky Mathews and online editor Lynn Cunningham:

This is totally unacceptable.

I am on the streets talking to a murder victim’s family and friends while his body is being loaded into a coroner’s van after my shift because we don’t have a Saturday night person – apparently we aren’t hiring one. Then I find out there was also a murder-suicide.

I go to nola.com this morning so I know what I need to follow up on today and neither story are anywhere to be found on the home page. Something about a flight that happened a long time ago when there were three homicides within a few hours? I finally find the murder-suicide. Buried, of course. The first homicide isn’t anywhere on the page. But a whole lot of other stupid fluff shit is.

I take a lot of pride in my work, even after I’ve been fired and told my experience, skills, and talents are of no use after Sept. 30. I know that I am good at what I do.

But compared to other news outlets, our website is a joke. We break news – but no one would know because of the worst news website known to man and the priority setting – whoever is doing it, is totally fucked. Embarrassing, compared to TV. And yet we are focused on digital now? Enhanced? Who is buying this crap?

Then I get criticized by nola.com – a group of people who still have all their jobs despite our despised website – because a 4th of July story I pitched, wrote, and blogged is in the holiday blog, which apparently is only for certain holidays.

I am writing you because I care about our product and I care about being the best reporter – sorry – content provider – I can be until I no longer have a job. But our product is suffering. Big time. And you all should be aware of that because it means losing respect in the community and losing readers and I’m not sure ya’ll want to be risking that right now. I talk to the community. A lot. I’m not sure if any of you are on the streets getting the opinions of our readers, you should be – during this time of transition. But if you aren’t – I can tell you that everyone hates our website and is losing respect for us as a hard news leader. And this morning – despite the hard work I do to provide the story – I can see why.

UPDATE: Dequine Harden tells DashThirtyDash.org that she hasn’t heard from any of the T-P execs who received her email. She’s going on vacation and points out that now “may be good timing to disappear for about 10 days.”

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